Kevin Kisner was not selected as a Ryder Cup captain's pick by Jim Furyk this past fall, an understandable decision given the fact Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson already had two of the slots locked up. Furyk then added a red-hot Bryson DeChambeau and an equally torrid Tony Finau, two picks that seemed like no-brainers at the time.
Because of the U.S. team's crushing defeat, every decision from that week is being second guessed, and Kisner is making a case for the biggest coulda-shoulda-woulda pick by Captain Furyk. On Sunday, after beating a seemingly unbeatable Francesco Molinari, 1 up, in the morning, Kisner earned his third PGA Tour victory with a 3-and-2 win over Matt Kuchar in the final match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. This was the second straight year Kisner made the final match at Austin Country Club, compiling a record of 11-2-1 in his last 14 matches in the event. It's his first win on tour since the 2017 Dean & DeLuca Invitational.
"This one might be the hardest to win just because of the physical aspect more than any other week," said Kisner, who only lost two holes to Kuchar on Sunday afternoon. "It was grueling, definitely, and the winds were tough and the temperature. Overall, it was just a long week, but I prevailed and I'm a World Golf champion."
Last year, after beating Alex Noren in the semifinal match on the 19th hole, Kisner got dusted by Bubba Watson in the 18-hole final, losing 7 and 6. That was quite the learning experience for Kisner.
"I learned about preparation, not to get too amped up for that final. You still got to come out and play golf, I don't think either one of us played our best golf, but I drove it great all week, love having a good week."
Adding to Kisner's growing match-play legend is his 2-0-2 record from the 2017 Presidents Cup at Liberty National, where he and Phil Mickelson played a huge role in the American team's lopside victory over the Internationals. The U.S. team likely still loses at Le Golf National this past fall even with Kisner, but you can't help but wonder now if he could have had a big impact. What we do know? Kisner will surely be on this year's Presidents Cup team, and barring a slump of epic proportions for the 35-year-old, we should expect to see him at Whistling Straits in 2020.
As for Kuchar, he'll be disappointed with the loss, but he continues to have one of the best seasons of his career. In addition to his two wins, he's now finished inside the top 4 twice.
In the third-place consolation match, Molinari outlasted Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard, winning 4 and 2. The fourth-place finish is the best of Bjerregaard's career on the PGA Tour, while Molinari's third-place result is his fifth inside the top three on tour since last July.